Backyard Ice Rink (Countryman Press, 2015) by Joe Proulx guides you through every step of building your own backyard ice skating rink. From the simplest wooden frame to elaborate tall-board rinks, from measuring the slope in your yard to constructing your frame using parts found at your local hardware store, Proulx makes the project easy to tackle. This project will give you a place to sit rink-side – and for a low cost.
Someone once called me a cheapskate. It was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me. With that in mind, I present the $20 (or less if you collect used wood like me) rink bench. This design is battle-tested rinkside across the United States and Canada, and is the official bench of a handful of pond hockey tournaments. It's simple, it's cheap, and it'll keep your butt drier than sitting in a snowbank when tying your shoes.
I had about 90 percent of the parts sitting in my garage (and under my deck, and in my shed, and . . .) but if you bought it all from scratch, it would break down as such:
Materials and Cost
- Lumber: $8 or so. I used a pair of 8'-long 2"x4" and a single 8'-long 2"x6", but you could probably use four 8'-long 2"x6"s, which are typically under $2 each at the big-box stores.
- Three 5-gallon buckets: $3 each. I went with two white and one blue, solely because they were the three I had that were the same height.
- Mending plates or scrap 2"×4": free. You could buy these, but you can’t tell me you don’t have scrap wood lying around. More on exactly what you’ll need below.
- Hardware: $3. You’re going to want six bolts, at least long enough to pass through the top of the bench and into the top of the buckets. 4" should work. You’ll also want washers, one per bolt, and nuts to tighten it all up.
Here’s how it comes together. If this takes more than a half hour, you’re doing it wrong.
- Start out by laying your wood on the ground, with the eventual bottom of your bench facing up. You can see this is all used, discolored wood, and ugly, though I prefer the term “rustic.”
- Your goal now is to attach the three boards to each other. There are a handful of ways to do this, and honestly, I used most of them. I had a couple extra mending straps, so I started with those. Then I slapped on a couple pieces of mitered 2×4. I only mitered them so that they’d be less visible from the front, but you don’t need to do that if you don’t want to. It’s not integral to the functionality of the bench. And then a scrap piece of plywood for good measure. Hooray for having tons of crap in your garage!
- Now you can flip your bench over and prop it up on top of the three buckets. Space them out evenly, then determine where you want to drill through. Since I put a 2"×6" as the middle of the bench, I marked the center of the 2"×6" then went 2" in either direction, such that both of my holes went through the 2"×6" and into the bucket. Drill slowly, as the plastic can break if you jam the drill down into it.
- Once your holes are drilled, drop in your bolts. Then lay the bench sideways to put in the washers and nuts. I didn’t use washers on the top of the bench, but used the largest ones I could find on the inside of the bench. I finger-tightened the nuts. Flip it back over and you’re done! Your very own super-luxurious, ultra-chic, “hey-honey-I-cleaned-up-that-scrap-wood-you-keep-bugging-me-about” backyard rink bench.
I stained mine, but you could leave it alone, or cover it with chinchilla fur, or wrap it in old stain-washed jean fabric — the world, and this bench, are your oyster. No more wet bums from sitting in snowbanks, no more tying your skates standing up, and no more piles of scrap wood in the garage. Win, win, win.
More from Backyard Ice Rink:
Excerpted from Backyard Ice Rink by Joe Proulx. Reprinted with permission from Countryman Press.